Interoffice collaboration helps keeps the engine running. No person is an island and no department can do it alone. The importance of working together within a team and alongside other teams is a highly emphasized corporate value.
As Harvard Business Review writes, this has led to "collaborative overload." HBR notes that at some organizations, employees spend up to 80% of their time on meetings, phone calls and emails. Furthermore, that all too often, "collaboration" often falls on the shoulders of far too few employees. According to HBR research, "20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees." This leads to single points of failure, disporportionate workloads, job dissatifaction, and voluntary turnover.
In more recent years, highly specialized technologies have emerged to not only facilitate collaboration, but to do so in a more even and fair manner. If your organization is experiencing bottlenecks, it may be time to consider implementing a modern solution to an age old problem.
One of the most basic, tried-and-true tools your organization can implement is an electronic document management system (EDMS). Think of EDMS as a digital file cabinet: All your paper scanned to a repository, easily searchable and retrievable right at your desk. Or anyone's desk! Applications such as Laserfiche can make accessing documents across departments and throughout the entire office a breeze.
Read More: What is Electronic Document Management?
Workflow automation typically works in conjunction with other hardware or software, such as your copier or an electronic document management system. By offloading frequent, repeatable tasks, you can make information available to your colleagues much more quickly and consistently. Automation can move documents scanned into your copier to a network share, or send expense approval requests automatically to the appropriate parties through your EDMS.
With emails piling up and the phone ringing off the hook, I'm sure the last thing you think you need is another point of communication. But modern communication applications, such as Slack, makes parsing the deluge of information much easier. Communication software can help you find and notify the appropriate person, archive knowledge and even set blackout times so you won't be bothered. Applications like Slack are about intelligent office collaboration.
No, we're not talking about the music file sharing platforms of the late 90s. File sharing, like EDMS, helps create a central repository for frequently accessed materials for individuals and teams to reference and edit. Platforms such as Microsoft's SharePoint or A&A Office Systems' own Cumulus are designed to organize, categorize, share and disperse information to keep everything in motion with minimal waiting.
Solutions such as these, and others still, will keep you running smoothly, but any great office collaboration tool still requires institutional consideration. A new technology is no good if policy doesn't guide it along. Take time to create structure and ensure employees are not only using the tools at their disposal, but using them effectively. Only then will you achieve true office collaboration nirvana!
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